Facebook’s initial public offering on May 19 might not interest you, but it’s causing quite a stir in the social media, business and technology worlds. Shortly after purchasing Instagram for $1 billion, the behemonth social media offered investors a chance to join in. Everyone speculated: would Facebook would stumble after the IPO, a la Groupon, or rise to crazy new heights that we haven’t seen before.

At one point, I thought it could have gone either way. But since the IPO and it’s subsequent stumble, more information has become available to make it seem like the real IPO happened last year, when Facebook and Goldman Sachs marketed the investment to its wealthiest non-US clients, including corporate magnates and directors of the nation’s largest companies.

Bummer. This means the IPO didn’t really offer much in the way of upward awesomeness for US-investors. This didn’t go over well and now Facebook is facing 2 separate class action lawsuits related to the IPO. Investors who purchased Facebook stock can join the class on the law firms’ website - Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP - if they wish to participate in the suit, which is still seeking a lead plaintiff.

Stay tuned. This is going to be a landmark IPO, just not in the ways I originally thought.

 

There are varying opinions on Facebook Timeline, running the gamut from love to hate. But Facebook didn’t wait on a majority of positive user feedback before switching every account on March 30. [Note: I've seen accounts that don't seem to have migrated over. I didn't think that was possible. Let me do some noodling to see why.]From a user experience and design standpoint, I think they’ve made a leap forward that makes interaction easier. The cover photo is a nice way to make a quick impression for people and brands. But there are other pros and cons, especially for companies managing their brand page.

According to Mashable, there is good news for brands in the post-Timeline era. Preliminary results from a relatively small sample of brand pages saw engagement rise over 40% on posts after the Timeline launch, compared to engagement before. The bad news: landing pages aren’t an option within Timeline anymore, so companies make sure your wall is interesting, dynamic and that you understand the new functions available, including “milestone”.  Don’t panic, users can still head to landing pages from outside the Facebook platform, just not from within it.

As if Timeline’s not enough to deal with, Facebook also expanded its advertising opportunities. At a recent Social Media Club of Atlanta meeting, Facebook reviewed the new premium ads. One of the biggest changes that jumps out is price. Existing Facebook ads were affordable for small businesses, but many of the new ads seem aimed at larger companies with deeper pockets. Check prices before you get too excited about them. But Facebook advertisers can now take advantage of these premium services: mobile ads, offers, reach generator, news feed ads and logout page ads – all with the same sophisticated targeting. Your goal should be to engage current fans, not just to increase your existing fanbase. I think a common misunderstanding of most corporate pages is that fan quantity is more important than fan quality, but that’s not often the reality. Give existing customers something new they can get excited about. Afterall, that’s what Facebook just did with Timeline and its new ad platform.

If you manage a brand page and are looking for additional assistance with Facebook Timeline, here are two resources I recommend:

Mashable offers Facebook Timeline for Brands: The Complete Guide

Local agency Cookerly PR offers The Brave New World of Marketing: Facebook Timeline and the Advance of Brand Storytelling

The talented folks at Lab 42 showcase the social food scene.

I was going to recap all the awesomeness that happened at SXSW interactive, but I wasn’t able to go this year and recapping something I can’t provide first hand knowledge of feels lame. I heard it was awesome and a new version of Foursquare debuted. While you can still check in and grab that coveted Mayorship from your boss, Foursquare’s also working to make places more inspirational by connecting the real world more with their app.

My recent fascination is Kickstarter, a newish online hub buzzing with entreprenuership and creativity. Launched in 2008, it’s a new way to get word out about an idea to fund your creative project. It’s one of those kickass (alt: genius, Collin?) ideas that you can’t believe didn’t exist before. And then you realize Kickstarter could only exist in today’s digital universe, as it relies on social/viral/word of mouth to create excitement and eventual crowdfunding success for enterprising kickstarters.

How it works is simple. Creative projects are showcased by visionary people or teams who want to do something “they love, something fun or at least something of note” by asking for money from we masses to make it happen. The kick is: projects get all-or-nothing funding. Let’s say you want $10,000 to make a movie about Earth Day and set a deadline of April 22. Backers are only charged if the full funding amount has been met. So even if you you’ve gotten $5,000 of funding from 200 people, your project won’t gather a dime from the effort.

Quick stats: The average pledge is $71 and the most common pledge is $25. A little less than half of projects are successfully funded.

Consider those number and then consider this recent success story: Videogame developer Double Fine Productions launched a Kickstarter project in February 2012, with a goal of $400,000 to produce an old school adventure game – $300K to produce it & $100K to film it. They raised $1 million in less than 24 hours, from tens of thousands of fans, and ended up raising $3.3 million total. Amazing.

New fundraising platforms like Kickstarter have emerged as a viable option to corporate backing. Which means more creative projects will eventually make it to market. Yay! There are plenty of worthwhile projects in need of funding, including some local ones. Check out Kickstarter.com and take a minute to search “Atlanta, GA” to find (and fund!) them.

Originally published in Atlanta INtown Newspaper, April 2012, “Making Sense of Social” column

The biggest news in social media last month was the surprising data released by the oft-forgotten social media pariah MySpace. In early February, MySpace claimed to have added more than a million new users in December and to be adding 40,000 new members daily. Say what?!

Well, here’s what’s been happening since you last visited the site – which was probably like 4 years ago, right? Right. Justin Timberlake brought sexy back and he’s partly to celebrate for bringing MySpace back too. He and a group of investors bought the platform from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation for $35 million in June of 2011.  (It’s worth noting the deal they got. Murdoch bought it for $580 million in 2005.)

MySpace Music Player launched in December, including access to a large library of free songs … so large they assert it’s the world’s largest collection of free music. Look out, Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, last.fm and other new kids on the block. MySpace is reinventing itself and reclaiming its identity in the socialsphere.

It’s really all about focus. Companies who find a niche and create products and services valued by the public do well.  Those who don’t, lose subscribers and interest quickly. MySpace knows. They lost 10 million members in March of 2011.

Stay tuned. I suspect this will be fun to watch. It will either be a case study in success or failure. There’s not a lot of room for mediocrity online. But MySpace’s staying power is already showing in the buzz they created at the end of 2011 and in their ability to capture headlines this year.  Besides Pinterest and the Facebook IPO, it’s been one of the most intriguing social media stories, and there’s an inherent success in that alone.

You can find me @brigflood and at makingsenseofsocial.com (but not on MySpace again … yet).

Originally published in Atlanta INtown Newspaper, March 2012, “Making Sense of Social” column

Turns 8 today. Looks like they’re getting an IPO this birthday.

Read more over at The Huffington post.

 

There’s a new social sharing platform on the block. It’s called Pinterest. It’s the latest shiny new object on the internets, gaining lots of users and buzz. Most of it good. What is it and why is it so popular? Pinterest is a virtual pinboard, a place to organize and share online images you find interesting or inspiring. Basically, it helps you curate videos, photos, graphics, visually engaging content and things you fancy in one place. You can follow other people’s collections and see what the tastemakers find intriguing too.

Pinterest is easy to use, easy to categorize, easy to give credit for the origin of a photo, idea, design, graphic, quote, outfit, etc. You name it, people are pinning it. There are wedding boards, food boards, home décor boards (make one for each room of your house), fashion boards, sci-fi boards, typography boards, Movember boards and there was even a SOPA protest. Multiple people can contribute to the content on a board, so you can collaborate with friends and colleagues on a project.

To get started, you either have to be invited or you can sign up at pinterest.com, (notes: there’s usually a waiting period before you’re officially in). The limited sign up gives it a certain cache and likely helps Pinterest control system overload. Once you get started, you can search the Everything section to find other users and search categories you like. There’s a Best of Pinterest section that’s definitely worth checking out when you’re wondering what it all means and why everyone thinks it so neat. Use the @mention in your descriptions to directly communicate with other users, just like on Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks.

So what’s all the fuss? Try it and see. According to Experian Hitwise, in December 2011, the invitation-only site had 40 times the number of total visits it had in June 2011. It’s quickly moving into the top 10 websites in their social networkin. Not surprisingly, Pinterest is popular with women between the ages of 25 and 44, a desired demographic for advertisers. Women comprise 59% of its readership, but that might change once the invitation-only barrier is removed.

If you like poster art, street art, knitting and social media, you might find me Pinteresting. You’ll find me here: pinterest.com/brigflood & on Twitter: @brigflood

 

Facebook: Beginning Again

Facebook: Why & How to Begin Again?

I’m currently trying to make a case for why our company’s engagement is strong without the promotional & giveaways they were conducting before I started as social media manager. It’s not an easy case to make. From their point of view, the number of new fans, comments, likes and shares has decreased. But from my point of view, we are giving our fans and followers more genuine reasons to come back, not just bribing them with gifts for barely any actions. Despite the change of strategy, our engagement remains high, we are more responsive to our customers and we are giving fans and followers more concrete reasons to connect and to come back later than a visa gift card.

Reaching out into the social media community to see if anyone else has encountered this problem. What was your solution? Any & all recommendations or comments are appreciated.

You know the saying that goes, “a good idea is worth stealing?” I’m a big fan and practitioner of it. Really we all are. If you think about it, stealing is what social media is all about. It’s not stealing anymore, it’s sharing instead. See a funny video, share it. Insightful tweet, retweet it. Cool product, Google+ it.  Funny post, like & comment on it. All those little stolen pieces become part of your social personality.

In social media practice, the sharing gets taken at least one step further. There are those who manage the communities and there are those who help the managers manage their communities. And both the individuals who use the tools and the companies who create them can access a lot of interesting data. In the wild west of today’s socialsphere, the data is extremely helpful.  It benefits each of person, each organization and the still-emerging social media discipline distill all this sharing that everyone is so busy doing. Plan, implement, measure, tweak, rinse, repeat.

Not surprisingly, the most interesting stats come from the organizations having access to all that data. Analysts and data wonks unite (quick shout out to James Nail, one of the best in the biz whom I was lucky enough to work with) At the end of 2011, Ad Age compiled a list of them. Here just a few. Stolen, I mean shared, for your pleasure (sources in parenthesis):

There are now more than 800 million active Facebook users, with more than 200 million added in 2011. (Social Media Examiner)

Nearly every large charity and university in America is on Facebook. Less than 60% of the Fortune 500 are. (Grow)

The average Facebook user has 130 friends and is connected to 80 pages, events and groups. (Social Media Examiner)

Forty-three percent of all online consumers are social media fans or followers. (HubSpot)

Netflix’s price hike caused 805,000 paid subscribers to jump ship in the most-recent quarter. (Mashable)

LinkedIn has 64 million users in North America alone. (All Twitter)

What makes people retweet? 92% interesting content. 84% humor. 66% personal connection. 21% celebrity status. 32% offered incentive (tangible or virtual). 26% “Please RT!” (WhiteFireSEO)

Beyonce’s pregnancy news at MTV’s VMAs birthed a new Twitter record of 8,868 Tweets per second. (TechCrunch)

Happy New Year all. Here’s to lots of sharing in 2012. You can find (and RT!) me @brigflood and at makingsenseofsocial.com

 

Facebook Timeline is here, whether you’re ready for it or not. Launched in late September to much fanfare by Mark Zuckerberg (and faux Zuckerberg, Andy Samberg) at the 2011 F8 Developer Conference, rumor has it that all Facebook profiles will change to timeline by the end of the year. Being that it’s the end of the year, that could happen at any moment. Here’s a quick overview by CNN/Wired on how to master timeline. Hint: it’s not that difficult. Another thing I realized after starting to prep Half Off Depot’s brand pages is that it’s only happening to personal profile pages, not brand pages. Aha!

Here’s a new look at how users engage with the old Facebook profile vs. new Timeline. This eye-tracking data is so cool and useful. Check it out.